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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Debussy, Canope

The final blog and time for some crazy forms, from crazy Debussy.

The first four measures of the piece consist of block chords on each quarter note. The first chord established that the key is D minor and goes through a series of chords without any cadence for the four bars and the downbeat of the fifth bar brings us back to the D minor chord but it’s hard to call this a cadence because the chord before it was a G Flat major chord. It does sound like a finale for the section though bV-i isn’t a traditional cadence. There is then a two bars of single line quarter notes that basically is a D minor chord that ushers in the next section.

The next section is four measures of a pedal D7 chord which serves as a dominant for the key of G and has some strong dissonances in the melody with C sharps and E flats that are played several times each before moving on to the next note.

This is followed by a six measure phrase with a new melodic idea with some thirty second notes and triplets and eventually makes its way to C major with a V7-I switching in the last couple of bars. This is followed by a short pattern of grace notes for two notes that go down and hit an A9 chord then a really weird chord with a G, A, B, D flat, and F which is the chord that a melody that is similar to the one that was on top of the D7 chord. This is followed by a couple of very fast lines going down followed by really high chords.

And from all that weirdness, the original chordal structure comes back for a recapitulation. The first two measures outline the same chords that happened the first time but the second two measures’ chords are changed and ends up making a plagal cadence of sorts going from F minor to a C major with a 9th. The C major with a 9th chord is the final chord of the song, and on top of it is some of the same melodic type content with the thirty second notes and triplet figures.

Though there is some feeling of going back to similar melodies throughout the song, in this Impressionism style form really isn’t important and the only thing Debussy really does form wise is to put a recapitulation in near the end.


mvittorio said...

Good job analyzing a crazy piece. I'm glad you mentioned some of the chords. It's interesting that we can hear tonality in block chords with no "melody" as is traditionally defined. Good thing for the recap.

Minnie Mouse said...

Debussy is indeed crazy. I think it was the drugs. Nice job! Good Hussle.

Martin Buber said...

so the chordal structure coming back, would give it almost a ternary feel, or more of a rounding feel?

Riding East said...

the opening traces a pentatonic melody, which then serves as the basis for a harmonic progression for the remainder of the piece.

d-minor is suggested, but this piece has nothing like a tonic.

jeff smith

Davy Berryman said...

You make no actual analysis of the work, simply stating what notes are on the page, which you can see by looking at the score.
As Jeff has said, D minor is suggested through key signature and first chord, but there is no tonic, and it is constantly undermined by harmonies around C.
The different tonal (dare i use the word) areas are connected by semitone movement, Dm to D (F to Fsharp) Gm to G (Bb to B natural) leading you to C, throughout the whole of measures 11-23 there is a G natural sounding which moves up to Ab in 24, then the Eb in 25 moves down to return to D.
The 3rd bar of this 'recap' of the first melody, if you look closely is actually exactly the same except transpose up a semitone.
The C major 9th chord perhaps isnt so. Is it not C major, while the melody in Dm sits above, and the D in the chord is part of that (as it is in measure 11). The melody is still moving towards D, and even though it is not sounded, as such, at the end, it is implied. So do we not end in bitonality, C and D - relating to the C tonality which has been undermining the peice throughout.

Debussys style is always ambiguous though, this peice in particular shows this. His music has a very improvisatory nature, perhaps because he did not think of the theory too much, maybe we should thing less about note to note movement, tonalities, melodies, and structures, and focus more on sonoroties. I think this is how he would have written, and listened to his music. But this may be just my opinion.